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Hill v. Alpine Sherriff Department

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 22, 2019

PERCY HILL also known as PERCY EDWIN STOCKTON, Plaintiff,
v.
ALPINE SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RULE 37 SANCTIONS AGAINST PLAINTIFF [ECF No. 22]

          Hon. Mitchell D. Dembin United States Magistrate Judge.

         On January 30, 2019, Plaintiff Percy Hill (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed the operative Second Amended Complaint against Defendants County of San Diego, Eric Garcia, Cathy Allister, Freddy Herrero, Matthew Addenbrooke, and Officer Balinger (collectively, “Defendants”). (ECF No. 8, hereinafter “SAC”). On September 9, 2019, Defendants County of San Diego, Eric Garcia, Cathy Allister, Freddy Herrero, and Matthew Addenbrooke (collectively, “moving Defendants”)[1] filed the instant motion for sanctions against Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. (ECF No. 22, hereinafter “Mtn”). Plaintiff filed an untimely opposition on October 11, 2019. (ECF No. 30, hereinafter “Oppo.”). The matter was set for hearing on October 21, 2019 and both parties appeared. (ECF No. 31). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS IN PART moving Defendants' motion.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         On March 4, 2019, the Court ordered the parties to “make the initial disclosures required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)” on or before April 17, 2019. (ECF No. 12). The Court held an Early Neutral Evaluation (“ENE”) and Case Management Conference (“CMC”) on April 24, 2019. (See ECF No. 13).

         On August 1, 2019, the parties filed a joint motion for determination of a discovery dispute. (ECF No. 20). Moving Defendants requested Plaintiff be compelled to produce his initial disclosures that were due pursuant to the Court's order on or before April 24, 2019. (Id. at 1-2). Plaintiff explained he thought his motion for extension of time filed May 13, 2019, which was granted, extended the deadline for disclosures. (Id. at 2-3). However, Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time did not seek an extension of the initial disclosures. (See ECF No. 15). Accordingly, on August 2, 2019, the Court ordered Plaintiff to serve his initial disclosures on moving Defendants no later than August 12, 2019. (ECF No. 21). The Court further noted that Plaintiff must properly serve all discovery requests upon Defendants in accordance with the applicable rules. (Id. at 2).

         On September 9, 2019, moving Defendants filed the instant motion requesting the Court impose sanctions upon Plaintiff for failing to serve his initial disclosures as ordered by the Court on two occasions. (Mtn. at 2). The Court ordered Plaintiff to file an opposition to Defendants' motion, if any, by September 27, 2019. (ECF No. 24). On September 30, 2019, the Court set the matter for hearing for October 21, 2019 and noted that Plaintiff had not yet filed an opposition. (ECF No. 29). On October 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion. (Oppo.).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) requires a party “without awaiting a discovery request, ” to provide the other parties, as relevant here:

(i) the name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each individual likely to have discoverable information-along with the subjects of that information-that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the use would be solely for impeachment;
(ii) a copy-or a description by category and location-of all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the use would be solely for impeachment; [and]
(iii) a computation of each category of damages claimed by the disclosing party-who must also make available for inspection and copying as under Rule 34 the documents or other evidentiary material, unless privileged or protected from disclosure, on which each computation is based, including materials bearing on the nature and extent of injuries suffered[.]

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i)-(iii).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(3)(A) permits a party to seek sanctions when the other party fails to provide Rule 26(a) initial disclosures. Further:

[if] a party fails to provide information . . . as required by Rule 26(a) . . . the party is not allowed to use that information . . . to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless. In addition to or instead of this sanction, the court, on motion and after giving an opportunity to be heard . . . may order ...

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